5 Ways to Relieve Constipation Naturally!
Healthy diet is essential to healthy digestion!
How to restore the flow to your gut without harsh laxatives.
Everyone knows that being bound up can be an uncomfortable feeling, not to mention just plain annoying. For some of us, constipation is just an occasional bother that comes from eating too much junk food, a side effect from a drug, or even a symptom of the menstrual cycle. However for some people, being constipated is an ongoing issue that may point to a greater problem; having a poor diet, lack of exercise or hormonal imbalance are a few of the underlying issues that might cause constipation and should be addressed.
If you suffer from chronic constipation, you would do well to consult with your doctor or alternative health practitioner to help you address what might be causing it. Poor digestion is something no one should keep living with or accept as normal. But if you only suffer from occasional bouts of constipation, here are a few methods you can try to help get you moving again without resorting to harsh stimulant laxatives or artificial drugs. Some work better for certain people, so try different ways to find one that works for you and start a movement!
Magnesium is a mineral our bodies need to make our bones strong and keep our muscles working. Unfortunately, it is also a nutrient most of us are deficient in these days. You can obtain magnesium from fruits and vegetables or other foods like peanuts. However, to get things really "moving", you can obtain larger amounts of magnesium by using a magnesium supplement in a pill or powdered form. One of my favorite magnesium supplements is Natural Calm--it is a powdered magnesium drink mix that allows you to control exactly how much magnesium you get. Besides helping your muscles (including those in your colon) work properly, magnesium also helps draw water into your colon, so DON'T OVERDO IT or you may find yourself with the opposite problem of constipation! Another nice side effect of Natural Calm (and magnesium in general) is it helps you relax and uplifts your mood. Just start with about half a teaspoon of powder and follow the directions for adding it to a cup of warm water. You may also use Epsom salts which are made with magnesium sulfate (I believe Natural Calm is made with magnesium citrate, but both are easily absorbed) in a similar way for the same effect. Also available at your local pharmacy are bottles of magnesium citrate which you can use by drinking all or part and get a similar result (again, start small and work your way up or you might be sorry!).
2) Psyllium Husk
Psyllium Husk is the powdered hulls of psyllium seeds that once mixed with water create a perfect bulk-forming gel that can really push things along in your bowels. Most of you may be familiar with a popular brand of this called Metamucil. You can find psyllium husk by itself at natural health food stores or you can purchase the flavored versions like Metamucil. Just mix it into some water or juice, but be sure to consume it quickly as it will "set up" and gel into a gloppy mess if you let it sit around. Also, be sure to drink a lot of water with it so that it all gets washed down into your stomach and doesn't cause a choking hazard.
This method is really great if the reason you're constipated is due to not eating enough dietary fiber. Fiber is very important for healthy digestion as this is what "sweeps" our colon and creates the bulk our colons need to push things through. However, if you find psyllium husk has an unpleasant texture for you, you might start with a smaller amount or just greatly increase your consumption of fruits and vegetables.
3) Aloe Vera
Aloe Vera as a supplement is the gel from the inside portion of Aloe Vera plant leaves. You can find it at natural health stores either in liquid form in bottles or dried in capsules. If the liquid gel tastes too strange for your taste or you don't like the texture, try capsules (the powder inside will simply rehydrate in your gut and gel).You may recall using Aloe Vera gel when you got a sunburn as a kid or on a bug bite; that's because the gel has very soothing properties that relieve inflammation. It will work the same way in your gut by relieving irritated portions of your colon and providing a slippery path for things to pass down. Try taking the gel or pills for a few days and see what difference it makes.
You may have heard some people say they don't have their morning bowel movement until after their first cup of coffee in the morning. This is partly because drinking liquid upon rising, especially something hot can help wake up your bowels and flush down what was sitting in there all night while you were sleeping. But more likely is the action caffeine has on your muscles, especially the smooth muscles found in your bowels. Caffeine causes your tissues to constrict and your muscles to contract--so that big cup of coffee is actually stimulating your bowels to move. If you're not a usual coffee drinker, try just half a cup and see if you notice anything...if nothing changes, try a whole cup! Or you can try some strong black tea which will have a similar effect. Because coffee works as a stimulant on your bowels, you may notice some cramping when you have to "go," so start out slow and don't over-do it.
5) Water, fruit and exercise
Did you ever think the reason you are constipated might simply be because you are dehydrated? Drink some water! And I mean a LOT of water! If you can, keep a cup of water with you throughout the day and try to drink at least 8 full glasses worth; if you're urinating once every hour or two and your urine is clear, then you know you're drinking enough. Your bowels need lots of water to push out waste, so this is important.
Eating fruit is another good way to bring water into your bowels, plus it adds more fiber to clear things away. You want to aim for high fiber fruits that also are very juicy. Another plus with fruit is that many of them contain compounds that stimulate or help draw water into your bowels such as sorbitol and pectin. Some favorites of mine I've had success with are apples and blueberries.
Sitting around too much could also be the reason for your constipation, so get moving! Brisk walking is very effective for relieving constipation, but you may also find other sorts of activity like playing a sport or swimming will help. Any kind of activity where your body is moving and shifting around is helpful (biking may not be as effective). Yoga is also great because you are turning and twisting your body a great deal which kind of gives your digestive organs a massage and helps them function at their best. Shake things up inside your gut to keep toxic material from just sitting around in there!
These are some of the most natural and safe ways to relieve constipation and are easy to incorporate as daily habits to help you have more healthy digestion. Many herbal remedies also exist to help with this issue, but please be careful and do not take any particular remedy too long. Some herbs contained in these remedies, such as Senna, can cause a "lazy bowel" which means your bowel becomes reliant on the stimulant action they create--your bowel loses it's own muscle tone and gets too weak to work well without the stimulant. They can be great for a temporary fix, but be careful about taking them habitually.
Improving your diet, exercising more and leading a healthier lifestyle are the keys to healthy digestion!
*Note: I wanted to add that alcohol can REALLY wreak havoc on your digestion. This becomes obvious when we think of what happens when most of us drink too much--someone winds up holding our hair over the toilet. I always notice after a night of drinking even a moderate amount, my digestion is totally messed up. Bowel movements either don't happen or are rather difficult and uncomfortable side effects occur like gas, cramps and gurgling. Basically, your intestines now have a hangover and won't work correctly until all the toxin is purged from your system. If you do go out drinking, be careful not to over do it and drink PLENTY of water the next day. Alcohol tends to dehydrate your body quickly and this adds to your digestion problems if you don't replenish the water. Be nice to your body the next day and don't eat hard to digest foods.
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